US senators push for vote on Hong Kong rights bill

November 13, 2019 16:55
Some US lawmakers want the Senate to push a Hong Kong-related bill, following through on an initiative by the House of Representatives. Photo: Reuters

The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Tuesday that he wants the Senate to pass legislation to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, Reuters reports.

Republican Senator Jim Risch noted that he is a co-sponsor and “strong proponent” of the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,” which would place Hong Kong’s special treatment by the United States under tighter scrutiny.

“We want it moved,” Risch said during a discussion on China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, according to the report.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill in mid-October, drawing accusations from Beijing that the lawmakers had “sinister intentions.”

Risch’s Foreign Relations committee approved a similar measure in September, but it has not been scheduled for a vote by the full Senate, which must pass the bill before it can be sent to President Donald Trump.

The White House, which is engaged in intense trade negotiations with China, has yet to say whether he would sign or veto it.

Risch and fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio are to meet on Wednesday with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the possibility of getting floor time for a vote on the bill, aides said.

“The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and say this is wrong, we stand with the people of Hong Kong,” Risch said.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had already lodged “stern representations” with the United States about the legislation and urged that it not be passed into law.

“If the legislation ultimately passes into law, it won’t only harm Chinese interests and Sino-US relations, it will seriously harm the United States’ own interests," Reuters quoted Geng as saying.

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